#SJ50k: Runners to watch at the 2011 Rock/Creek StumpJump 50k

This is the 10th year for the Rock/Creek StumpJump 50k, and every year the level of competition seems to grow. With 463 runners for the 50k, StumpJump is the second-largest trail 50k in the United States, and easily the most competitive in the southeast. This group has some elite trail runners in it!

Who are the race day favorites? After taking a look at the field, we came up with some names to keep an eye on.
To check out the field of athletes for yourself, click here.

MEN:

  • David Riddle (Ohio) — David has already won the 2011 Mountain Mist 50k in AL, the 2011 Sylamore Trail 50k in AR and the Another Dam 50k in OH so far this year. He’ll be going for his fourth 50k victory in his first visit to StumpJump. All told, David may be the man to beat for this year.
  • Josh Wheeler (North Carolina) — Winner of the 2007 and 2009 StumpJump 50k, Josh holds the record for the current SJ50k course. He’s been relatively quiet after a string of R/C Trail Series wins in 2009 (StumpJump 50k, Upchuck 50k and the Lookout Mountain 50-miler), but took second in the 2011 Scenic City Trail Marathon. Don’t sleep on Josh.
  • Ben Vanhoose (Michigan) — Ben brings with him an impressive resume of 2011 ultramarathon podium finishes: Hallucination 50-miler (3rd), Yankee Springs 50-miler (2nd), Green Swamp 50-miler (1st), Dances With Dirt 50-miler (2nd). That’s a lot of quality mileage; we’ll be watching this guy!
  • Owen Bradley (Alabama) — Owen Bradley is another Rock/Creek Race Team member, the one without a shirt on. Having taken first-place honors in the Mt Cheaha 50k and Oak Mountain 50k already this year, he’ll look to improve upon his 5th place finish from the 2010 StumpJump 50k.
  • Andy Anderson (California) — After finishing 6th in both the 2009 and 2010 StumpJump 50k races, Andy looks ready to make a push for the podium, with three 50k wins in the last couple of years.
  • Aaron Saft (North Carolina) — Aaron set new course records at the Rock/Creek River Gorge trail race and Scenic City Trail Marathon this year before going down with an injury on day 1 of the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race. He’ll look to extend his success in our series to this longer race distance.
  • Dennis Bauer (Georgia) — Dennis ran a 4:26:34 at the Sweet H2O 50k in Georgia this April. Need we say more? This guy is fast, with a couple of podium finishes under his belt.
  • Cody Goodwin (Tennessee) — Speaking of absurdly fast 50k times, Cody ran a 4:17:36 at the Tashka Trail 50k last December… and that’s all we know about him. I feel like we’ll know a lot more, come Saturday.

WOMEN:

  • Natalie Sims (Tennessee) — Natalie is a Rock/Creek race team member and 4-time StumpJump 50k finisher. She’s won two ultras already this year, the LI Greenbelt 50k and GRR 50-miler, and took 3rd Female in the Angeles Crest 100-miler… which she ran without a pacer. Oh, her husband Matt is also the race founder. We plan to stay out of her way.
  • Robin Meagher (Georgia) — After winning three ultras in 2009/2010, among them the fearsome Pinhoti 100-miler, Robin returns to kick off her 2011 season at her second Rock/Creek StumpJump 50k.
  • Emily Hardin (Alabama) — Emily finished 2nd Female in this year’s Mountain Mist 50k, a full 14 spots ahead of SJ50k race director Randy Whorton. She has a chance for a podium in her first StumpJump.
  • Wendy Wright (North Carolina) — Wendy is on a fantastic run, with 3rd-female finishes in the 2011 Umstead 50-miler, 2011 Mt Mitchell 40-miler, and 2011 Sultan 50k. She’ll look for a place on the podium in her first StumpJump 50k.
  • Sara Angel (North Carolina) — Sara makes this list on the basis of a tremendous 1st-female (in 5:19:00) showing at the Terrapin Mountain 50k this March… enough to earn her serious dark-horse consideration!

Editor’s note: although listed among the top runners on Ultra Signup, Jan Gautier and Diane Van Deren are both nursing injuries and are not expected to run the 50k.

Race Director Randy Whorton has taken the time to put together a list of the all-time best StumpJump times, both overall and split out by age/gender; see below. On the “new” course (revised in 2008), Josh Wheeler’s 2009 winning time of 4:15:00 is still the mark to beat.

This year’s 50k features runners from 30 states: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NM, NY, OH, SC, TN, TX, UT, WA, WI, and WV.

Remember, spectators are welcome at the race, and a shuttle service will be available, so we encourage everyone to come cheer on family and friends… or just watch this incredible event. Did we miss someone you think should be on this list? Visit us on Facebook and let us know!

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